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First encounters

Kristina Humphries wants to pack it all in-but not quite yet

It's the rabbit that really decided me. The rest of the household have learned to forage for themselves. The dog is surviving nicely on a diet of crusts - as is everyone else, come to think of it. But although at the start of term the rabbit was happily working its way through the unidentifiable green stuff from the bottom of the fridge, even that has dried up.

I've also already forgotten to collect my small son. I got home one night and realised it was a bit quiet before I missed him. And that wasn't the same night I forgot the way home and got lost.

So, thanks to the rabbit, the hunt is on for that bit of paper that gives the deadline for handing in my notice. I just haven't quite got round to finding it yet. It must be somewhere handy, like in the heaps dotted around the spare room. (I must have a good look at those, just in case I've mislaid anyone else.) I'm quite decided: it's not worth it. I can't have the rabbit on my conscience as well as all the other guilt that goes with being a working paent. It's not even as if I'm very good at my job.

I manage to find my way into work with my mind made up. I can't say I feel a lot better. Perhaps it's because I still can't find the relevant bit of paper. At break, I do a quick calculation of alternatives. Do I want: a) a cup of coffee; b) a visit to the facilities; c) something to eat; or d) to keep that child in until he's sorry for his very existence. Opting for b) on the grounds that the others are mere indulgences, I do a lightning dash to the staff loos.

I am waylaid by a child from one of my more "challenging" sets, who appears from nowhere. He thrusts an envelope into my hand. "What's this?" I demand suspiciously, thinking, a note from home explaining why he can't do science? This'll be good. "It's an Easter card, Miss, it's nearly Easter." And it is, laboriously inscribed in gold pen, in better writing than I've ever seen in his exercise book. Okay, perhaps I won't look for that piece of paper just yet.

Dr Kristina Humphries is a chemistry NQT at King Edward VI high school in Stafford.


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